Wednesday, August 21, 2013


When the four oldest kids were little, we did a lot of field trips. At least once or twice a month, we'd load up in the van and go off on some sort of real-life educational happening.

It might be meeting a few Five-in-a-Row families for an outing related to a book unit study, getting together with our homeschool group to visit a nursing home, or going on our own to a pick-your-own blueberry farm. Over the years, as more kids were added to the mix, the field trips decreased and I quit being as spontaneous about just going and doing something fun.

Now that both Betsie and Anna are both gone to college and the prospect of moving to Africa is looming large on our not-so-distant horizon, I'm reminded that time slips away from us and before we know it, the kids are grown and gone. We will probably never live as a family again in America and there are things I'd like my kids to see and experience before we start our new life in Swaziland. For this reason, when a volunteer here at We Will Go mentioned that she'd been doing a lot of canning, I asked her if we could come join her one day. Anna and Betsie often got to help our friends The Wards with canning back when they were pre-teens. We even entered items in the state fair. It had been years since any of us had done anything like this, and as far as I know, nobody in Swaziland cans. I'm sure that somewhere there must be homemakers putting farm grown produce up in Mason jars (or whatever the African equivalent is) but I don't know about it so I seized this chance. There are some activities that just scream down-home Americana.

So loading up the three youngest kids, we headed about 45 minutes outside of Jackson to a rural community called Branch (an old timey word for creek). There we picked our own veggies at our friend Renae's brother and sister-in-law's garden before heading back to her lovely home for the actual canning process.

Got the goods.

Ready for the canning.

The pile grows.

Cooking up a potful of goodness.

Yum!  Roast beef sandwich with tomato straight from the garden.

Filling up the jars.


We LOVE Miss Renae!!!

After spending most of the day at Renae's, we headed to another set of friends' home for some different kind of fun.  We've known Karen and Jimmy McGivney for years, since we were members of Calvary Chapel Jackson.  Karen recently rescued a pregnant dog who gave birth to a litter of huge puppies last month.  After some cupcake enjoyment, it was time for puppy loving!

From Miss Renae's goodness to Miss Karen's sweetness.

Enjoying the puppy but hoping he doesn't get pee'd on.

Puppy Love

Dog tired.

Grandpa Jimmy

Shweet babyyy.

And because it is easier to cram a whole bunch of stuff into one day rather than going out again and again, we not only canned and played with puppies, we also went to Barnes and Noble to turn in the kids' summer reading lists and get free books.

Turning in their summer reading lists.


And as though that wasn't enough fabulousness, the day was capped off with the kids' weekly ministry time at First Baptist Jackson.

Walking to Wednesday night church.

Checking in for GA's and RA's.

And how was the perfect way to end a great but pretty tiring day?  Snuggled up in bed with little Miss Merry as she started her very first chapter book.

Reading her very first chapter book is a big deal in this family.

It is tempting to use busy schedules and just wanting to chill during free times as a reason to not get out. But as I said in the beginning, I am learning the hard way that little kids aren't little for very long and one day, I won't have the option of spending an afternoon cuddling puppies or looking at books with them at Barnes and Noble, so for now, I get a little bit more intentional with how we use the time we have and I invite you to do the same. Call me, come see us, shoot me an email. Let's go out and grab some fabulousness together while we still can.

I meant it.

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